Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Interim Reporting and Future Plans

We are just completing our second (and last) interim report. It deals with the project's progress over the last six months. A large part of the report deals with mapping the proposed project objectives and outcomes against what we have been able to achieve so far. One important theme that emerges from the initial draft of the report is the sustainability of the project, that is what will happen when the funding finishes in October. How will we ensure that the projects legacy will continue? The report provides a useful focus for articulating these plans in the light of our experiences over the last 18 months.

Cluster Meeting 25th & 26th March 2010

We have just hosted the third meeting of our cluster (universities of Bristol, Exeter, Hertfordshire and Westminster). The venue was the Comfort Hotel in St.Albans. The hotel was at one time the home of Samuel Ryder of Ryder Cup fame. The meeting ran as is usual from lunchtime on the 25th to lunchtime on the 26th. This gives everyone a chance to arrive in good time to start the meeting and for a social event in the evening - usually a group meal at a local restaurant. This time is valuable as much of the meeting is about sharing experiences of our projects and seeking advice from our fellow cluster project teams and our critical friend Malcolm Ryan.

The first day kicked of with a welcome and introduction by Malcolm and a review of the ground rules for the two days. The Chatham House rules mean that we can speak candidly about issues and events arising in the projects. We then moved on to looking how we had used the Appreciative Inquiry approach with our project and a facilitated session run by Rachel Harris of Inspire Research. We then moved on to evaluation and looked at how we are approaching this- thinking about "what a successful project looks like " and discussing the value in understanding why something did not work out as planned. The day was rounded of by a very pleasant meal in which the topics discussed during the day were further explored.

The second day looked at the plans for the final cluster meeting at Exeter - a draft agenda was proposed and celebrations planned! We then moved on to plans for a joint conference submission by the cluster at the Geenwich e learning conference in the summer. The day finished with a session on using Fishbone Analysis to explore the sustainability agenda of the projects.

All in all a really useful two days - we have similar experiences and issues and it was an excellent opportunity to raise them and to identify ways to move forward.

JISC Experts Group

On Wednesday 17th March I presented a workshop on the ESCAPE Project at a meeting of the JISC experts group in Birmingham. The workshop gave an overview of the Appreciative Inquiry(AI) approach that we took with module teams. We then explored the emerging findings from two of the modules that we are working with. In particular we looked at how educational technologies (online submission, wikis, and online groups for example) provided a medium for achieving the pedagogical aims of the project (for example: a more consistent engagement with the curriculum, increased opportunities for students to engage with feedback and the facilitation of more personalised leaning opportunities). The day provided a good opportunity for getting feedback on the project and there were many questions on the use of AI.
It is indicative of the stage that we are at in the project that we are now starting to present the emerging results of the project on a national stage .This was always was part of our dissemination plan and its nice to be in a position to start to see all the hard work done by the module teams starting to bear fruit.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Sharing what we do

As a project team we are really keen to share with the sector  our work.

This manifests as presentations both internally and externally to the University of Hertfordshire. You will see that we have received a few invites too to present our work.

The University of Hertfordshire has recently re-launched its in house journal relating to teaching and learning. Or more specifically, Blended Learning. The journal has a practitioner focus and uses a variety of formats to engage the readers. The title of the Journal is aptly named Blended Learning in Practice (BLiP)

Dominic and I recently published in the journal. The article can be found here.